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The Dreams of Giovani?

‘L’utilitaria che vince le corse!’ was Laverda’s 1950s sales slogan which, loosely translated, means ‘the commuter which wins races’. Rather more bizarrely the caption at the top reads ‘the dreams of Giovani’… (oops - no, it's giovane; "the young"). The austerity of post war Italy provided an ideal environment in which to launch a low cost motorcycle. This opportunity was spotted by Francesco Laverda who, when taking time off from the family agricultural engineering business, started work in his spare time on an innovative four stroke 75cc machine. Laverda’s reputation for building tough, reliable bikes was enhanced through the success of their lightweight machines in the Italian long distance classics. In the 1953 Milan Taranto event the company’s ‘Tarantina’ model filled the first 14 places in the 75 cc class; a remarkable achievement for a manufacturer which had only been in full production for 3 years. In contrast to members of the old guard such as Gilera, Benelli and Moto Guzzi, the Laverda factory had no Grand Prix experience to draw upon. Laverda had therefore concentrated its racing efforts in the lightweight production-based classes and rapidly developed a reputation for producing winners. These results demonstrated the worth of a manufacturer’s model range more effectively than any showroom window or sales brochure could. As the saying goes, what wins on Sunday sells on Monday and the ensuing Laverda sales boom during the mid fifties saw 38,000 units of the 75 and 100cc models pass through the showrooms. The impressive sales of the tiny Laverda four strokes made them one of the most commercially successful Italian bikes of the 1950s. More in issue 1 of Benzina, available via the shop

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